The Way I Select Product Ideas & Projects
Hello. My name is Andrei. For the last 8 years, I have held various positions in companies that were growing at an incredible speed: MTS, IKEA, Svyaznoy. I managed projects differently: sometimes I created something from scratch, sometimes I developed what had already been created.
Now, I’m leading a software product.
One of the biggest challenges I face is finding profitable, trending products. Coming up with a product idea is a tricky process. A good idea is only half the battle. There is only one viable idea, two max, of a hundred. To generate a hundred ideas is a big thing.
In this article, I would like to share my way of selecting product ideas.
All the thoughts about new products that come to my mind I immediately note. To be honest, I don’t use research methods when ideas come from a current problem or a need. I rather move in the opposite direction.
I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing, but otherwise, I simply can’t get emotions from the process (emotions is an important thing in product management, though. It only needs to be embraced and channeled). The targeted user research doesn’t inspire me.
Ideas have been coming to my mind for at least ten years, so I have a lot of notes about new products and businesses.
Combine and evaluate ideas
A couple of years ago, I decided to systemize ideas and offers to participate in startups. I thought out a simple scoring logic and made a Google Sheet, where put all the ideas.
Idea evaluations parameters:
1. Product’s durability. How long-term can this product be? Will it be relevant in 10–20 years, or it is limited to 3–5 years?
2. Product’s scale. What market do we focus on — on the local or the global one? Can it garner users’ attention worldwide? How large is the market now, will it grow?
3. My satisfaction. Will I enjoy feeling ownership? Will I be satisfied with the working process?
4. Product’s profitability. How much money can the product bring me as a founder? Is there a potential for capitalization or is it a dividend project?
5. Product’s complexity. How difficult will it be to launch and develop a product, based on my current experience, competencies, and resources?
Each parameter I evaluate on a scale from 1 to 10. Whether through intuition or Google research. The total score is calculated as the sum of the first four parameters minus the fifth.
Every 2–3 weeks or every time a new project is added to the list I re-evaluate it. This is important, as perception and awareness change over time and the final scores may change as well.
Select and simulate
The most difficult thing is turned out to be selecting. It doesn’t work if you just take an idea with the highest score. There are always plenty of reasons why it isn’t the right time to start particularly with this product.
So, I’ve adopted this approach: I keep the list, regularly look into it and re-evaluate projects, and wait for an impulse. The impulse comes up as a sharp, obsessive desire to start working on a specific idea right now.
I don’t know how to influence the impulse. It may not exist for half a year or may arise suddenly for two different projects at once.
After the choice is made, I model and test it.
Some of the most successful product owners I’ve talked with believe that only fanatical belief in an idea can be a solid ground for launching a startup. Launching a startup is a long way with thousands of obstacles; it is almost impossible to rationalize the choice of the initial idea in such circumstances.
I stick to my rule: we need to rationalize the process while listening to our inner voice. I don’t claim to represent the truth, anyway.